Protective Orders in Virginia
Civil Protective Orders in Virginia
To be eligible to petition for a protective order, you must have been, within a reasonable period of time, subjected to an act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury, or places you in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault or bodily injury.
There are three types of protective orders:
•Emergency Protective Order (EPO) –lasts for 72 hours
•Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) – lasts for 15 days
•Permanent Protective Order (PO)-lasts for any specified period up to 2 years
When obtaining a protective order, the individual seeking the protective order (the victim) is referred to as the petitioner and the individual you want to be protected from (the abuser) is referred to as the respondent.
To obtain a protective order, you must have all parties’ addresses, first and last names and dates of birth. If you have social security numbers this is helpful but not needed.
*Do not wear shorts to court, you will not be allowed into the courtroom.
Step 1. If you need immediate help, and the Courts are closed, go to the Magistrate’s Office to request an emergency protective order (EPO). The emergency protective order lasts for 72 hours. The Magistrate’s Office is located at the Riverside Regional Jail, 500 Folar Trail, North Prince George, VA 23875; they are open 24 hours a day.
Step 2. If you want to extend your emergency protective order beyond 72 hours, and are seeking a preliminary protective order (PPO) against a *family or household member, or the petitioner or respondent is a juvenile, contact the Court Services Unit at 804-733-2786. You must make an appointment with an Intake Officer to fill out an affidavit and a petition for a preliminary protective order. The Court Services Unit is located at 6450 Administration Drive, Building 12, Prince George, VA 23875. Next, you will go to the District Court Clerk’s Office, which is inside the courthouse located at 6601 Courts Drive, Prince George, VA 23875, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The Clerk will give you a date to appear in front of the judge for the preliminary protective order hearing, it will likely be that same day or the next business day. This is an ex-parte hearing, meaning it can take place without the respondent being present.
Do not wait until your EPO expires before calling the Court Services Unit.
*Definition of family or household member: spouse, ex-spouse, parents, children, step-parents, step-children, siblings, half-siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, persons who have a child in common, regardless of residence; in-laws who live in the same home; and co-habitants and those who have co-habited in the past year and their children.
If you are seeking a preliminary protective order (PPO) against someone who is not a family or household member and neither petitioner nor respondent are juveniles, you will go to the District Court Clerk’s Office during the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The Clerk’s Office is inside the courthouse located at 6601 Courts Drive, Prince George, VA 23875. You will fill out an affidavit and a petition for a preliminary protective order. The clerk will give you a date to appear in front of the Judge for the preliminary protective order hearing, it will likely be that same day or the next business day. This is an ex-parte hearing meaning it can take place without the respondent being present.
Do not wait until your EPO expires before going to the Clerk’s Office.
Step 3. You must appear in Court for the permanent protective order (PO) hearing, which will take place 15 days after the preliminary protective order hearing; the respondent will be present at this hearing. The Judge will notify you of this court date. At the permanent protective order hearing, the Judge may issue a permanent protective order, which can last for any specified period up to 2 years. If you do not go to this hearing, the permanent protective order will not be issued.
If the respondent does not appear at the permanent protective order hearing, and he/she has been served with notice to be there, the Judge can conduct the hearing without him/her present. If the respondent has not been given notice to appear, the Judge can issue another preliminary protective order and set a new court date for the permanent protective order to be heard.
The court may issue no contact as a condition of your protective order which means the respondent cannot contact you in person, by phone, email, online, etc. or even through a third party. If you must have some contact with the respondent, please notify the Judge of this at both protective order hearings.
Please bring any evidence with you to the preliminary hearing and permanent protective order hearings. This may include any witnesses, photos, text messages, social media posts or voicemails. If you have photos, please try to print them out to bring to court.
A Protective Order does not take effect until it is personally served on the respondent. If you find out the respondent’s home address, work address or phone number has changed since you petitioned for the protective order, make sure you provide the Sheriff's Department with this updated information, to make sure the protective order can be served. You may call the Sheriff's Department at (804) 733-2690 or the Police Department at (804) 733-2770 to see if the protective order has been served on the respondent.
When a protective order is issued, make several copies. Remember to keep the most up to date protective order on you at all times; one at home, one at work, one in your car, one in your purse, etc. Anyone listed as a protected party should also keep a copy of the protective order on them at all times as well. If children are listed on the protective order, make sure you give copies to babysitters, school officials and day care providers.
If the respondent violates any protective order, call the Police Department where the violation took place and the respondent may be arrested and charged with violating a protective order.
For more information and assistance with protective orders, call the Victim/Witness Coordinator at (804) 733-2753.